Nearly 50% of US physicians going online for professional purposes are visiting Wikipedia for health and medical information, especially condition information, according to a Manhattan Research study.
Despite using the online encyclopedia as a resource for information, only about 10% of the 1,900 physicians surveyed created new posts or edited existing posts on Wikipedia, the study found.
“The number of physicians turning to Wikipedia for medical information has doubled in the past year alone, said Meredith Abreu Ressi, vice president of research at Manhattan Research. “Physicians, just like consumers, are heavily search engine reliant, and often Wikipedia results are what come up in the top of the organic results.”
Abreu Ressi noted the concern about accuracy regarding Wikipedia, which allows its users to create content for the site essentially without restriction. Articles are subject to perpetual editing by Wikipedia's readers. Inevitably, false information sometimes slips through the cracks. “We've seen medical wikis such as WiserWiki and AskDrWiki appear over the past few years to try to address this issue, but to date, these types of wikis are not seeing as much physician traffic as Wikipedia,” said Abreu Ressi.
The Manhattan Research study, titled Taking the Pulse, surveyed practicing physicians online and by random digital dial telephone interview during the first quarter of 2009.